A very popular aircraft from the 1950s
and early 1960s has ended up as a restaurant, and often as a bar
at several locations in USA. Usually perched on a concrete buttress,
is all or part of a Lockheed Constellation.
The aircraft was first operated by
TWA, when Howard Hughes owned the airline, and later by all the
airlines, including Pan Am, Lufthansa, Air France and many others.
When Ralph Damon headed up TWA, it
was the Lockheed Constellation, which served flights in and out
of TWA’s “butterfly” poured concrete building
designed by Finnish American architect Eero Saarinen at Idlewild
Airport, today known as JFK International Airport.
Now an elegant Lockheed Constellation
or at least part of one has returned to JFK International to sit
mounted somewhere near the Saarinen TWA building to serve as (what
else?) a bar.
Richly painted in TWA colors the tube
minus wings, engines and tail was ballyhooed through Times Square
in Manhattan en route to JFK recently.
But apparently someone forgot to do
their homework as the now dormant aircraft was continually referred
to in media reports as a “jet”.
Of course the Howard Hughes inspired
Lockheed Constellation was /is a piston pounder!
The Lockheed is also maybe the most beautiful airplane ever built.
So now the new 500 plus room hotel
at JFK International Airport attached to the iconic TWA “Butterfly”
with the Lockheed “Connie” sitting like a cherry on
top, opens for business May 15.
Although Saarinen died before his
JFK International Airport masterpiece building debuted (other examples
of his work include Dulles Airport & the Jefferson Arch in St.
Louis), the Saarinen name is being flouted all over the new hotel
in an attempt to create a chic destination.
Lots of luck, we say.
To look at it, it all seems like an
overcrowded jumble, as the original, breathtakingly beautiful TWA
Building and a 500-room hotel sit squeezed together astride the
Jet Blue airline passenger terminal, the roadway and a huge vista-obliterating
Despite not being able to enjoy the
views, once apparent at TWA JFK, (except if you are in the new hotel
looking out), good to report that JFK in 2019 has an on airport
hotel that “soft opens” for business May 15 at an average
cost of USD$240 per night.
Yes, at last check there are still
some rooms available.
It is worth noting, in addition to
living in an era in which apparently airport hotel people cannot
get their airplanes straight, the other on airport JFK hotel, the
empty and somewhat forlorn, once upon a time beautiful and iconic
International Hotel, has sat empty at the Van Wyck Expressway entrance
to JFK for the best part of the last two decades.
Today, the International Hotel, which
welcomed not only Neil Armstrong back from the moon at the Bishop
Wright Protestant Chapel Award Dinner, but also World War II hero
Jimmy Doolittle, sits as a muted, lone sentinel to a bygone era.
Talk about not seeing something right
under your nose.
How did the hotel industry and airport
operator manage to overlook this place with lots of parking and
open space as the natural location to either do an adaptive reuse,
restoration or even rebuild?
Today, John F. Kennedy International
Airport, the air field dreamed up by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in
1942 to ease congested LaGuardia Airport 12 miles away, despite
the glitz of a new hotel in the dense, overcrowded airport ring
of buildings, otherwise is by and large, an embarrassment.
The hope is that the JFK Air Cargo
Association, KAAMCO, JFK Airport Chamber of Commerce and others
will take advantage of the meeting rooms and dining options the
TWA Hotel will offer.
So far these groups, without a truly
world class facility on airport, meet at places like Russo’s
On The Bay, located off airport in Howard Beach, and at other hotels
and function halls near the airport.
Might be nice, despite the traffic
din of the on airport experience, to once more be able to say “Meet
Me At TWA!”
When it comes to spotlighting exceptional
airport buildings, why did The Port Authority of New York &
New Jersey allow I.M. Pei’s exquisite Aviodrome, an acknowledged
masterpiece of 1960s art & architecture, fall under the wrecker’s
ball in 2010 despite widespread loud and vocal protest? More here.
Too much of a good thing?
In this case, too much was not enough!
When we think back on it, how lucky were we to be able
to save the Marine Air Terminal, LaGuardia Airport, New York and
Building One, Newark International Airport, New Jersey—historic
first-generation aviation buildings.